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Interpretation ID: 2524y

Mr. Manuel R. Garcia
PSC Box 1865
APO NY 09406

Dear Mr. Garcia:

This is in reply to your letter of April 2, 1990, to Ms. DeMeter of this Office, with respect to importation requirements for motor vehicles. You have recently bought a l974 BMW l602 made "overseas", and would like information on Federal safety (and EPA) requirements the car must conform to before it is shipped, or, alternatively, whether it is permissible to make the necessary repairs after the car arrives in the United States.

Changes in the law affecting importation of cars subject to the Federal motor vehicle safety standards, which were effective January 31, l990, have made the process of importing nonconforming vehicles much more difficult than before. In brief, your car can be imported only if this agency has made a determination that it is capable of conversion to meet the Federal motor vehicle safety standards. If an affirmative determination has been made, you may import the vehicle only if you have a contract with an importer who has registered with this agency to undertake to conform the vehicle to meet Federal requirements. If the conversion work has been performed abroad, the registered importer is nevertheless responsible for submitting verification that the work has been done. At this early date in implementing the law, the agency has made no determinations of vehicle eligibility, and has appointed only a handful of registered importers. I believe that the regulations of the EPA are similar; importation is accomplished through an "independent commercial importer" (ICI). We are forwarding a copy of your letter to that agency for its response.

You haven't indicated when you anticipate importing the BMW. I suggest, as the time approaches, you write our Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Washington, D.C. 20590. He can then provide you with the latest list of registered importers, and vehicles for which affirmative importation determinations have been made. If your car is not among them, you may persuade a registered importer to petition the agency on your behalf. However, there is a fee imposed for consideration of petitions (either $1,560 or $2,150, depending on the car). This is payable in advance, and is non-refundable if a petition is denied. Further, a vehicle owner is not eligible to submit such a petition.

You didn't say how "recently" you bought your car. However, if it was before October 31, l988, and you were stationed outside the U.S. at that time and have never before imported a nonconforming vehicle, the law allows you, until October 31, l992, to import the car personally, without a registered importer and without an importation determination, and to have conversion work done by anyone you choose.

You also asked for "the publication that covers the Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Register." I am not sure what you mean, but I am enclosing our new vehicle importation form, Form HS-7, which all importers of motor vehicles must execute upon arrival of their vehicles. It is, in essence, a concise form of the new importation regulation. I am also enclosing copies of that regulation, and the ones on registered importers, vehicle eligibility determinations, and fees.


Paul Jackson Rice Chief Counsel

Enclosures ref:59l#592#593#594 d:6/26/90